Narration & the art of devising some means of sensible appreciation for our perception's indistinctness.


Susan Griffin explains it, but "a way of narrating events that gives the listener ‘a path through those events that leads to some fragment of wisdom.”


human story-telling | stories | intention or goal of biology | persisting quetsions



When words fail to fully convey a sublime existence.

"Another is the importance of story as a form of thought. I find that many formulations that are popular today but were unknown when Gregory Bateson was writing, such as sustainability, are illuminated by his writings, both in their significance and their vulnerability to distortion. "

Catherine Bateson, Introduction, (2008), p. 1.


“Humans are a species that tell stories – they live their lives around stories that give meaning and understanding. The telling of stories is not a simple act, as writer Susan Griffin explains it, but a way of narrating events that gives the listener ‘a path through those events that leads to some fragment of wisdom’ by such transmission, consciousness is woven.”

Gary C. Bryner, Gaia’s Wager, (2001), p. 177.


Stories are more than the means of capturing our imaginations while we are amusing one another. Telling stories may explain as we teach lessons and derive meanings from the experiences we hear about and tell to others. Those narratives that persist across languages and down the generations are called myths in that they are spoken about over and over again. 


On the holiest day of the Hebrew year, Yom Kippur, the story of Jonah and the behemoth, or sea beast is told. In the Christian tradition of the mass, two stories are conveyed, one from the letters and the other the Gospels, to the laity, before the consecration. Such moral stories, seek to admonish the doubter and reaffirm the faith of those gathered to recall the sanctity of a given day. Stories of the origin of humans inform all societies who have questions about how things began and where they come from.


Origin stories developed in the twentieth century were revised because they were derived from discoveries in science, with two twists. Life was now known to be a unifying condition for humans and all of living nature. With the implementation of powerful technology the universe was observed to be expanding. A new view of nature emerged as the history of international events culminated in in war and war-making. The effects of the war's fears enabled the construction a massively destructive atomic technology. But understanding the very destructive forces of nature simultaneously revealed the means by which the Earth incubates and life materializes from the action of radiant energy from the sun and thermal capacities of the planet to endow creatures with a fierce capacity for self-regulation and through reproduction the ceaseless development of functionally tentative forms of bacteria, fungi, plants, and animals. The narrative of astonishing complexities and exquisitely interdependent growth asserts the unity of nature and human emergence from the vast, deep and enduring tree of life.


The new story of life informed by ecology revised how people imagined their place, origins, relations and obligations to the world we inhabit. From physics emerged the strange new subatomic order that once harnessed as fission produced nuclear weapons. These weapon’s powerful after effects revealed the seamless and permeable character of the life with which humans share the Earth. During the same period when nuclear fallout from testing weapons turned up in milk, a revolution in biological sciences sparked by a discovery of the structure of DNA by four scientists brought genetic knowledge to the very focus of how life adapts or fails to thrive in its surroundings.


The newly emerging story of how humans are genetically and ecologically related to and dependent upon all other creatures is the incipient story of our time. During his visit to the Amazon rain forest, Edward O. Wilson, reminds his readers that there still exists, "one of the great surviving wildernesses of the world, stretching 500 kilometers…" (The Diversity of Life, 3) As an advocate of protecting the variety of life on Earth, Wilson reminds us that in these vast forests, if trained to see closely, one becomes aware of an important verity.

"This is the assembly of life that took a billion years to evolve. It has eaten the storms -- folded them into its genes and created the world that created us. It holds the world steady." 



In recognizing the deep attachment, called biophilia by Wilson and others, we have to the thriving life of the planet we are forced to create a language appropriate to this new wisdom.


Joseph Siry, 580 words (exclusive of citations).



What new story is emerging in literature and the arts, in science and technology, in nature and ecology, in history, in business, in theology?


Ideally, the relationship between the patterns of the biological world and our understanding of it would be one of congruence, of fit, a broader and more pervasive similarity than the ability to predict in experimental contexts that depend upon simplification and selective attention. It seems useful to refer to Gregory's ecology of mind as an epistemological ecology to contrast it with the largely materialistic ecology of academic departments.


It seems essential to underline that recursiveness is a necessary feature of such an epistemology.


Catherine Bateson


   1. How are we defining and creating our future?

   2. How can we as educators, dedicated to interdisciplinary ways of knowing, enhance the capacities in our students and in ourselves to face the changes in our common world?

   3. How do we inspire and cultivate creativity and innovation in our students?

   4. How do we demonstrate creativity and/or innovation across disciplines, or as tools that blur disciplinary boundaries?

   5. In innovating the self, what possible futures may we create for ourselves, both personally and professionally?

   6. Why is interdisciplinary study a “agent of change” for many students?



Parts of the narrative | listening | speaking | writing | visualizing | instinct | revision